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A Division of the International Studies Office

Updates for International Students & Scholars

The International Studies Office (ISO), Office of the General Counsel, University Human Resources, the Office of the State Attorney General, and State appointed outside counsel on immigration continue to closely monitor interpretation, revision, and implementation of the Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations on immigration and travel and related court decisions. ISO staff are also in regular communication with Student Affairs, colleagues at other universities, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

Please note, UVA’s Return to Grounds website addresses many concerns about housing, quarantine, coursework, research, finance, international travel, health, the University's operations, etc.

Below are additional resources related to international students and scholars. This page contains general information only, and is not intended as legal advice to any individual.  Legal advice can be provided only by an attorney directly representing an individual client.  If you need legal advice, the International Studies Office may be able to help refer you to one.

This is a rapidly changing situation both at UVA and globally.  We will do our very best to keep you informed and will update our advice as needed.  

You are also welcome to email us at, call 434-982-3010, or schedule an online meeting with an advisor through ISSP Connect.


ISO-ISSP Current Operations


As of March 18, 2020, in-person appointments and advising hours in Minor Hall are suspended until further notice. The International Studies Office continues to provide services to international students and scholars online. The ISO-ISSP team will be available to meet with students via Zoom. Students can schedule to meet with an advisor through ISSP Connect. Select on an advisor with an open time slot and you will be sent Zoom credentials to be able to connect via internet or phone. More information on virtual appointments can be found here.


All immigration requests need to be submitted online through ISSP Connect


Can nonimmigrant students participate in online classes from outside the U.S. and still maintain their nonimmigrant status? What about the 5-month rule?

Yes, nonimmigrant students can temporarily engage in distance-learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, in light of COVID-19. Students who are enrolled in a full-course load Fall 2020 will continue to remain in legal status even outside the United States. Students enrolled full-time for Fall 2020 do not need to worry about the five-month rule.  SEVP will provide updated guidance as additional information concerning the scope and length of this situation becomes clearer. More information can be found here, PDF

Will students be able to return to the United States if they are continuing their studies outside of the country as a result of COVID-19? Does the 5-month rule affect this?

Students enrolled full-time for Fall 2020 do not need to worry about the five-month rule. Students who continue to make normal progress in their course of study remain eligible for admission into the United States. However, because of the changing array of travel restrictions, nonimmigrant students should refer to their local U.S. embassy’s website through the U.S. Department of State for any updates about visa issuance. Also, DHS and CDC websites both provide information about current travel restrictions to the United States.

I am an initial student and plan to arrive in the U.S. after classes start on August 25th, who should I contact?

First, you need to contact your school of enrollment or department to seek approval. Then, submit ISO's Fall 2020 Late Arrival Request form and we will revise the start date on your I-20. Please note that any late arrivals after the start of the semester may not be permitted entry by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  

How can I get my travel signature?

F-1 students will submit the "I-20 Reprint Request" form located on our Forms page. F-1 students will receive a digitally signed Form I-20. Those on OPT must receive a travel signature every 6 months. 
J-1 students will submit the "DS-2019 Reprint Request" form locatead on our Forms page. We will mail you a new Form DS-2019 with a travel signature via eShipGlobal.
J-1 scholars will submit the "Travel Signature" request on the ISSP Connect - Scholar Portal.  

I am an initial student and will take classes outside of the U.S. for the fall semester, will that time count towards my Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT)? 

No, it will not contribute to CPT and OPT eligibility because an initial student’s F-1 status will not be established until they arrive in the U.S.. The exception here is Darden students. 

How can I apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

Students interested in applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) must file application from within the United States. If you decide to travel outside the United States while your application is pending know that important documentation such as your OPT receipt notice and your OPT employment authorization card will be sent to the U.S. address indicated on your I-765 only. It will not be sent to a foreign address. If you have a trusted friend or relative who will remain in the United States, they can certainly mail important documents to you, but note that it may carry risk or delays (lost in mail, delays in receiving documentation, temporary border closings).

  • To view instructions and apply for OPT, please review our OPT website.

Must students cease engaging in OPT if they are now working fewer than 20 hours a week due to the economic impacts of COVID-19?

For the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, SEVP considers students who are working in their OPT opportunities fewer than 20 hours a week as engaged in OPT.

How can I extend my form I-20?

If you will not finish your academic program by the date indicated on your Form I-20, you will need to submit our online extension request found on our Forms page. You will need to communicate with your Faculty Advisor or Associate Dean as this request requires their verification. You will also need to submit financial documents to support your extension. We will mail you your new Form I-20 via eShipGlobal.

I have an offer to work over the summer session. How can I apply for curricular practical training (CPT)?

Students interested in interning over the summer term in the United States must complete a Curricular Practical Training request found on our Forms page. You will first need to communicate with your Faculty Advisor or Career Center (undergrads only, email to inform them of your intent to participate in an internship or practical experience over the summer as you are required to register for an internship course.  We will mail you your new Form I-20 via eShipGlobal.

Undergraduate students: If you plan to take UNST 2820 from the Career Center, please click here to read through your additional requirements.

 Fall 2020 - New Students


If you have an intial I-20 and plan to arrive to Charlottesville for Fall 2020

  • You are required to take at least one in-person course at UVA. Nonimmigrant students in New or Initial status will not be able to enter the United States to enroll in a U.S. school as a nonimmigrant student for the fall term to pursue a full course of study that is 100 percent online. 
  • If you will not arrive by the date listed on your I-20, please complete our Fall 2020 Late Arrival Request Form. Undergraduate students in the College of Arts & Science as well as Darden students must arrive to Charlottesville no later than September 6
  • Remember to complete the Immigration Check-in form as soon as you arrive to the United States. 

If you are a new student with an initial I-20 for Fall 2020 and will begin your studies outside the U.S. for Fall 2020 and wish to enter the U.S. for Spring 2021

If you are a new student with an initial I-20 for Fall 2020 and wish to defer your admission to a future term

  • Please contact the Admissions Office or your Department to defer your enrollment. You do not need to complete a form for our office. ISO will notify you when your updated I-20 has been created. 

 Fall 2020 - Current/Returning Students


If you are continuing your studies outside the U.S. for Fall 2020 and plan to return to Charlottesville for Spring 2021

  • You do not need to complete a form for our office. You only need to inform Student Health for Insurance, Dining, Housing/Leasing Office, of your intentions to stay outside the U.S. for Fall 2020 so you do not incur charges that are not applicable to you. 
  • Ensure you have the appropriate travel signature on your Form I-20 before your return Spring 2021. You can request a travel signature by completing the "I-20 Reprint Request" form on our Forms page

If you are enrolled in coruses during the Fall 2020 term

  • Enrollment in online-only courses is permitted. Your F-1 status will continue to be 'Active' as long as you remain registered for at least 12 credits. 

If you will complete your academic program Fall 2020 and wish to enroll in less than 12 credits

  • Complete our "Reduced Course Load (RCL) Request" form on our Forms page

If you do not wish to enroll in classes during the Fall 2020 term

  • Please complete our "Leave of Absence/Withdrawal Request" form on our Forms page and contact your academic department. You will need to depart the United States, if you have not already. 
    • Taking a leave of absence for the Fall 2020 term resets employment eligibility clock as your I-20 will be terminated for Authorized Early Withdrawal. All students require one academic year to apply for CPT or OPT benefits unless employment is a required part of your program. 

Quarantine and Testing Instructions for Students Arriving from Abroad

If you have been living abroad, regardless of your nationality, you will need to self-quarantine for 14 days upon your arrival in the U.S. Once you have your valid visa/travel documents and a flight itinerary, please complete this brief survey. If your travel plans change after submitting the survey or if you have questions, you may email

Once we receive your survey, we will be able to provide more details about your quarantine process based on whether you plan to live in a residence hall on the UVA Grounds or in housing located off Grounds.

Students Living Off-Grounds

Students who live off-Grounds during the fall semester will need to make arrangements to quarantine for 14 days in their place of residence upon arrival. Please follow this guidance available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on living in close quarters.  

If your place of residence is not available at the time of your arrival or is not suitable for self-quarantine, the University has negotiated discounted rates at local hotels that can be utilized for pre-arrival quarantine. Please email for hotel information. Students will be responsible for covering their own hotel costs.

Students Living On-Grounds in a Residence Hall

With the deferral of in-person classes to September 8, undergraduate students who arrive from outside the U.S. on or after August 18 and will be living on-Grounds in University housing during the 2020-2021 academic year qualify for assignment to University pre-arrival quarantine housing at no additional cost. Sheets, towels and other needed basics will be available in the housing, and meals will be delivered from UVA dining services three times per day throughout your quarantine period (meals will be deducted from students’ fall semester meals plans).

Once you have your valid visa/travel documents and a flight itinerary, please complete this brief survey. If your travel plans change after submitting the survey or if you have questions, you may email

As your reported arrival date nears, you will receive your specific assignment in University managed quarantine space and information about how to check-in. You will need to stay in your assigned space, separate from others outside the space, and monitor your health for the 14 day period of self-quarantine.

COVID-19 Testing

Like other students, you will need to self-administer a COVID-19 test. Order a test kit here. You can order your test kit two to three days before your arrival at your quarantine location in the U.S.  Students quarantining in the U.S. following arrival from abroad should use the mailing address of the U.S. location where they are in quarantine even if that address is a hotel. Students should check with hotel management or front desk to ensure mail delivery and pick up. Test kits can be mailed only to U.S. addresses by the third-party vendor.

Please refer to UVA Return to Grounds for more information about self-quarantine and testing.

Presidential Executive Order of April 22, 2020 Limiting Immigration

Our international community is understandably concerned when a new Executive Order (EO) or Proclamation is issued by the White House.  A plain reading of the Proclamation indicates that in its implementation there is no impact on nonimmigrants in terms of status, barring entry, or in the processing of applications and benefits.  The direct impact of this EO is upon immigrant petitioners outside the U.S.

Outside counsel offfers the following analysis of the EO:

"The Proclamation has almost no impact on individuals currently inside the United States:

  • It does not revoke or otherwise limit temporary work visas such as H-1B, TN, L-1, O-1 or other temporary visa categories including F-1 students attending school in the US or using OPT or CPT .
  • It does not prevent or limit processing of work visas such as H-1B, TN, L-1, O-1 or other temporary work visa categories.  The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS) is still processing new petitions in all categories, as well as extensions, transfers, or other actions.
  • It does not revoke or otherwise limit green cards already issued to individuals inside the US.
  • It does not prevent or limit processing of green card applications by individuals inside the US.  The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS) is still processing green card applications in all categories."

While this order is not impactful in the way perhaps anticipated, the ISO will continue to monitor these developments as they evolve, noting the following language incorporated into the EO: "Within 30 days of the effective date of this proclamation, the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall review nonimmigrant programs and shall recommend to me other measures appropriate to stimulate the United States economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of United States workers."  The full text of the EO can be read here:

Summary of Presidential Proclamation Effective June 24th

The White House has issued a Presidential Proclamation “Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak” effective June 24, 2020 and remains in effect through December 31, 2020.

  • It only applies to those outside of the US on June 24, 2020, and restricts those individuals seeking to enter the United States in the named categories on new visa stamps issued after June 24, 2020. 
  • It does not impact at all those already in the United States and does not revoke existing visas of individuals who are inside the US in any of the affected categories. 
  • It does not pertain to F-1 students nor impact OPT.
  • It does not apply to J-1 students, professors, research scholars or student interns. Your category can be found on your Form DS-2019
  • It does not impede changes of status to any visa status from within the U.S.

We are including a summary of this Proclamation from our professional association:

Fall 2020 Guidance From SEVP

As a result of the suit brought by Harvard and MIT, on July 14, 2020 the court issued the following statement: The Court was informed by the parties that they have come to a resolution to the combined temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction motions. The Government has agreed to rescind the July 6, 2020 Policy Directive and the July 7, 2020 FAQ, and has also agreed to rescind their implementation. The Government will return to the March 9, 2020 and March 13, 2020 policy. This moots the temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction motions, [ECF Nos. 4, 30], and will preclude enforcement of the July 6, 2020 policy directive and July 7, 2020 FAQ, which are being rescinded on nationwide basis.

ISO Letter Verifying UVA's Fall 2020 Operation

If you would like a letter from ISO verifying that UVA is not operating entirely online, you may download a copy here

International Student Town Hall Recordings

The University and ISO hosted multiple town halls to address international students' concerns and questions. 

July 10th Town Hall on SEVP Fall 2020 Guidance (*Transcript)

July 17th Town Hall (*Transcript)

July 24th Town Hall (*Transcript)

July 31st Town Hall

October 16th Town Hall

*Transcript tip - use Ctrl+F or Command+F to search for a keyword related to your question